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First POST: Circumlocution and Circumvention

BY Micah L. Sifry | Friday, March 21 2014

Circumlocution and Circumvention

  • We're watching the Sources and Secrets conference live online this morning; it's streaming at www.cuny.tv/sourcesandsecrets until 1pm ET. Among the speakers: Bob Woodward, Jeffrey Toobin, Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras, Bart Gellman, Jill Abramson, Bill Keller, Quinn Norton, Katrina vandal Heuvel, Robert Litt.

  • Richard Ledgett, the NSA's deputy director, appeared at TED yesterday via Skype (but not via robot) to respond to Edward Snowden's talk the day before, but judging from the audience's tweets, he didn't do all that well.

  • Sen. Harry Reid has stepped into the battle between his colleague Sen. Dianne Feinstein and the CIA, ordering a "forensic examination" of the Intelligence Committee's computers to determine whether its staff hacked the agency's network.

  • The German Parliament has formally launched an inquiry into the NSA scandal, with a focus on how Germany's own government spying agencies "were aware of, participated in, countered and possibly even benefitted from" the activities.

  • Ryan Gallanger and Peter Maass report for The Intercept on how the NSA "hunt(s)" system administrators.

  • Google announced that it has begun encrypting all email messages that go between its users and its servers.

  • President Obama is having another meeting with tech CEOs today, "to continue his dialogue with them on the issues of privacy, technology, and intelligence," Tony Romm reports for Politico. Mark Zuckerberg, who recently called Obama to complain about the NSA, is expected to attend.

  • The Los Angeles police and sheriff's departments are arguing, in response to a lawsuit filed by the EFF and ACLU, that all the license plate data they routinely and automatically collect from plate readers mounted on the city's road is "investigatory" and thus exempt from disclosure. The EFF and ACLU are seeking one week's worth of the data being collected under the state's public records act.

  • Twitter was mostly blocked in Turkey after the country's controversial Prime Minister promised to "root out" the service, blaming it for spreading a smear campaign against him. The European Commission VP Neelie Kroes called the ban "groundless, pointless, cowardly."

  • Twitter's global public policy team responded by tweeting to its Turkish users that they can still send Tweets using SMS.

  • People in Turkey are also painting the specific DNS numbers of services like Google on posters of the governing party to help circumvent the blockage.

  • Republicans are stepping up their ability to identify and target persuadable voters, with some new success stories coming out of last week's special election House race in Florida, report Alex Roarty for National Journal. "[Democrats] either oversold the data technology they have, or we're starting to beat them at their own game," Gerrit Lansing, the NRCC's digital director, told Roarty.

  • As Carl Hulse and Ashley Parker report for The New York Times, the Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity group was also very active in the Florida race, fine-tuning its own campaign ads and voter outreach using similar data analytics.

  • Ready for Hillary has launched a "social organizing" tool that asks supporters to find and identify their friends on their state's voter list, either by letting Facebook access their social graph data or manually, by entering names and addresses. The tool is gamified, with users earning points and badges as they work toward their goal. Kudos to Nickie Titus, RfH's digital director, for calling this "social organizing" instead of "online organizing."

  • Politico Magazine's Jennifer Stromer-Galley offers a trip down memory lane to the campaign websites of 1996.

  • Netflix's CEO Reed Hastings explains why his company supports "strong" net neutrality, saying that major Internet service providers shouldn't be allowed to charge an "arbitrary tax" for interconnection services. Given that ISP customers have already paid for high-speed Internet services, he notes, it ought to be up to the broadband providers to deliver that service.

  • Comcast became the first cable broadband company to issue a transparency report, announcing that it had responded to somewhere between 0 and 999 National Security Letters in 2013, and the same number of FISA orders and warrants in the first six months of the year.

  • The good folks at MuckRock have obtained the Department of Homeland Security's 88-page social media monitoring handbook, and they are asking volunteers to help scour its contents for the most interesting details.

  • Ashley Spillane, the former executive director of The Atlas Project and democratic GAIN, is the new President of Rock the Vote.

  • Seventy-two percent of schools in America do not have adequate Internet service, the US Conference of Mayors says in a letter to the Obama administration urging an upgrade.

  • Corinna Zarek, the White House policy adviser for open government, celebrated Sunshine Week with a post on the White House blog citing an "improved" Data.gov, increased public collaboration, improvements in the We the People petition platform, and modernizations in the FOIA process.

  • For some odd reason, The Guardian has an article reporting that Justine Tunney, "one of the co-founders of the Occupy Wall Street movement," is calling on Obama to resign and make Eric Schmidt of Google America's CEO. Her petition to do so has 23 signatures on "We the People."

  • Joe Mullin of ArsTechnica reviews all the holes in Newsweek's shaky claim that it found the inventor of Bitcoin, saying "it's time for a retraction."

  • Writer's block delaying a grant proposal? Try the Philanthropy Jargon Generator. It will help you conceptualize a collaborative, efficient, client-focused, pioneering action plan.

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